Cranberry Orange Cupcakes


2-1/2 c. fresh cranberries, divided
1 box (18.25 ozs.) white cake mix
1 c. water
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 T. orange zest
24 paper muffin liners
1 T. orange juice
3 T. sugar or decorating sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
3 to 4 c. powdered sugar

Directions for Cupcakes:
Coarsely chop 1 1/2 cup cranberries. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, water, oil and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in cranberries and orange zest. Put liners in muffin tins. Fill cups two-thirds of the way. Bake cupcakes in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting.

In a bowl, toss remaining fresh cranberries with orange juice. Then add sugar and toss to coat. Decorate top of each cupcake with a few sugar-coated cranberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Directions for Frosting:
Use a mixer to beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add 3 to 4 cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Use a knife or piping bag to frost cupcakes.

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